After last Saturday’s pulsating Challenge Cup tie against Huddersfield, Salford were back in League action against an ever improving Hull FC. The Airlie Birds had been on a horrendous run losing seven on the trot but seemed to have turned a corner winning there last four matches. They now look a lot more settled with halfbacks Jake Clifford and Jake Trueman. When the two sides met in the reverse fixture just over two months ago Salford were sensational thumping Hull 14-60 on there own ground.
Most of the Super League matches this weekend were played on Friday night and once again we saw some exciting games and score lines. In my opinion this is the most open season in Super League history. It would be fantastic to see two of the unfashionable teams in the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup final for that matter. I think it would be good for the sport in general.
Salford coach Paul Rowley made changes with both Ken Sio and Tim Lafai starting after returning from injury. Andy Ackers was back at hooker, Adam Sidlow and Jack Ormondroyd made the bench. Despite the talk of transfer requests, Tyler Dupree started at prop with Rowley putting his face in the young prop forward.
The visitors had Tex Hoy at fullback, star forward Brad Fash started at prop and former Salford favourite Josh Griffin was in the back row.
The weather was warm and dry with a slight breeze as the two sides walked out for kick off. As ever the pitch looked immaculate.
The visitors took the lead with a classic counter attack down the left wing. Adam Shift provided the pace and great support play from Jake Clifford to score a fine try.
Salford settled into the game and some good, solid defence saw Hull make errors to give the Red Devils attacking opportunity. Tyler Dupree charged through a gap showing lovely, neat footwork to power over and the scores were level. Marc Sneyd converted, 6-4.
Sam Stone knocked on deep in his own half. On the next play Trueman evaded Stone to put the visitors in front with there second try.
Poor discipline from Hull allowed Salford to build pressure and Brodie Croft provided a lovely try for Deon Cross with a measured kick. Sneyd converted to edge Salford back in front, 12-10.
Hull’s live wire fullback Tex Hoy broke through the Salford defence but was put in touch by a top tackle from Joe Burgess. From the resulting scrum Sneyd kicked through and Ryan Brierley won the foot race to score a real quality try, super vision from Sneyd.
The Red Devils led 18-10 at the break after a really exciting first half.
The talented Clifford kicked the second half off with another tantalising kick that hung and swirled in the breeze before Burgess knocked it on. Hull took there chance and a floated pass out wide saw Darnell McIntosh touch down, 18-16.
You couldn’t take your eyes off this match as it was end to end action.
Sneyd and Stone linked up superbly to provide Salford’s next try. The Red Devils scrum half went over against his former club and once again the home side had an eight point cushion.
This Salford team struggles to shut up shop and at times forced the pass when it wasn’t really the best option. This invited the visitors back into the match and when Josh Griffin went over the game was back in the balance at 24-22.
One player who’s not had an abundance of game time this season is Ben Helliwell. Today coming off the bench Helliwell was excellent, he looked busy, sharp and this lad can play too.
Salford lost Andy Ackers with another head injury which is really bad luck on the Devils number nine.
At 24-22 the match needed winning and a moment of brilliance from Brodie Croft provided it. Croft threw a delightful pass for Sio but the winger still had plenty of work to do. Being the accomplished winger he is he made it look easy with a sublime finish.
Hull were desperate now and Clifford’s kickoff didn’t go ten meters so Salford had a penalty on the half way line. Sneyd attempted a penalty goal but dragged it just wide.
Leading by six points Salford set up for a drop goal and it was Sneyd who nailed it, 29-22.
In a frantic finale Clifford went for goal with ninety seconds left. You could see his thinking behind the situation. Kick the penalty then go for a last gasp try. His plan was scuppered though as he missed the penalty attempt. Salford were home and hosed.
Sneyd was sin binned with six seconds to go but that wasn’t go to make any odds.
A thrilling match and another two points for Rowley’s Red Devils who are in good form going into the Magic Weekend with five wins from there last six matches.
Salford 29 Hull 22.
Big thanks to Steve McCormick for the photos.